Sunday, January 5, 2014

How to Not Die On a Road Trip: Stimulation

The key to surviving a long road trip involves long hours of constant stimulation followed by a sizable rest. The driving itself is incredibly easy since there are considerably fewer obstacles on the Interstate than there are when driving around town. This guide instead focuses on more advanced skills for survival.

Let's begin with stimulation:

As your vehicle hurdles down the highway at 70 MPH you will find yourself, against all logic, becoming bored. Yes, although you will be traveling at speeds that would not impress but terrify owners of early automobiles, your hunk of modern automotive engineering renders that feat unimpressive.

So, you will need to find ways to entertain yourself, paradoxically distracting yourself from the road in order to better pay attention to the road. Here are some of my suggestions:
  • Audio stimulation: Almost everyone listens to the radio while driving. This is that, but yo might need to go into it with a bit of planning. You see, there's nothing like an 8 hour drive to remind you that there's only, like, 10 songs on the radio. My solution is to come prepared with a selection of podcasts and my own playlists of music I can sing to,  switching back and forth depending on my mood and tiredness levels. Singing keeps me alert better than podcasts, but eventually my voice gets tired, so I need to strike a balance or risk losing my voice.
  • Eating: This is one of the most dangerous balances to strike. You should, of course, never eat a meal while driving. However, even if you stop too eat a meal at a restaurant you still run the risk of the It is. A heavy meal will make you drowsy, which is not a good state to be in while driving. One alternative is to simply go hungry during a road trip until you're at or close to your destination or resting place. Another is to snack lightly throughout the day. One of the most effective ways to stay alert for a decent stretch is to drive hungry with the "goal" of finding someplace to eat. Focusing your mind on the secondary task of finding someplace to eat acts as a sort of game/survival instinct hybrid that can keep you on your toes for hours if done right. Being hungry hurts, though.
  • Using the bathroom: Simply put, pit stops serve a purpose other than simply emptying your bladder. Savor them. Take a look around the gas station or rest area and allow your eyes a rest from looking at the road. At a certain point, any stimulation becomes a god-send.
  • Change it up: The most important thing to remember when keeping yourself alert is change. Driving during the day is good for this in some places since sometimes beautiful scenery around you can keep you alert. Sometimes it's as simple as changing the radio station, even if you were kind of enjoying the one you were listening to. Any change requires the mind to process it, which is in the end the most important thing.
As far as rest goes, that's actually what I'm about to do right now. It's late, and I've been rambling about everything I've basically been doing all day. Perhaps I'll discuss resting tactics some other time.

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